Pastor claims holy black currant drink will cure cancer, HIV, diabetes

The Manchester Evening News's Richard Wheatstone has done a good investigative series on the Victorious Pentecostal Assembly Manchester, which hard-sells a "holy" cure-all (made from black currant drink and olive oil) that the church's leader, "Pastor Mbenga," claims will cure cancer, HIV and diabetes. In one article, the reporter presented himself to Mbenga, saying that he was worried about his uncle's cancer. The pastor advised him to pray and buy a lot of miracle cure, which the pastor would bless. The pastor's hard sell included stories of people with cancer and diabetes who "had been able to throw away their medication after making a full recovery." The pastor instructed the reporter to dilute the blessed sugary drink three to one with olive oil and administer it to his uncle, whereupon "God will take over with divine intervention and the cancer will disappear."

When subsequently cornered, the pastor insisted he harmed no one and framed his sales of the "cure" as an issue of religious freedom:

He said: "It is the word of God, it is in the scriptures that God can heal these illnesses and that is the message we are passing on to people.

"I wasn’t aware of that law, but we live in a free society and if this is what people believe then people should be free to believe in it and carry out their faith.

"We have seen divine intervention in the past where people have been healed of terrible diseases and believe that God has the supernatural power to bring about miracles.

"This is what we believe and we are just trying to help people, trying to help them live a better life by giving them the power through God to make changes in their lives. We are not hurting anyone."

Pastor: We are trying to help ... we aren’t hurting anyone (via ERV)


  1. Not to quibble, but I wonder if he adds an emulsifier?  Black currant drink and olive oil would be immiscible, I think.

  2. I suppose at least he isn’t encouraging them to drink industrial bleach. My friend and his mother both take MMS (miracle mineral supplement) which is sodium chlorite in water. They are impervious to any arguments against it, insisting that they’ve never felt healthier. (Although that must be a case of the placebo effect trumping a physiological effect, for the time being). Interestingly the guy who ‘invented’ this cure has now started a religion to try and circumvent laws that say you’re not allowed to sell bleach to people as a medical cure.

    The main problem is, and this relates to Xeni’s post about fake cancer cures, is that there is a level at which alternative ‘medicines’ work purely on a religious level, in that they are impervious to logic, and any attack on them is built into the theology. For Christians, secularism means the End of Days & the coming of Christ, for people who take these cures, arguments against their effectiveness is simply Big Pharma trying to protect its revenue streams.

    1. Not to be picky, but sodium chlorite (NAClO2) is not bleach (sodium hypoclorite NAClO).

      According to Wikipedia sodium chlorite is found in things like mouthwash, toothpaste, and eyedrops.  Of course in a strong enough dose it is going to be lethal, but then again a lot of things are like that.

      1. Sorry, you’re right. But the key is that before ingesting it you’re supposed to mix it with citric acid which turns it into chlorine dioxide. That IS bleach.

      2. Also according to Wikipedia (permalink):

        From the analogy with sodium chlorate, even small amounts of about 1 gram can be expected to cause nausea, vomiting and even life-threatening hemolysis in Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase deficient persons.

        according to this MSDS (warning PDF) from, the LD50 for an acute oral dose in rats is 165mg/kg, which would seem like a lot, but keep in mind this doesn’t necessarily correlate to human toxicity at all. This dose could be practically harmless, or cause instant death in humans or do anything in between, since the MSDS didn’t have any solid numbers on human exposure.

        Just thought I’d add a little more info. Not saying it’s super toxic or practically safe.

    2.  If you drink chlorinated water you’re ingesting dilute bleach.  Doesn’t seem to do much harm; millions of people drank it today.

      1. Not on anything like the same scale. Do you realise how diluted the bleach in the water supply is compared to say, drinking 1/3 of a cup of actual chlorine dioxide?

        And this is harming people, not to mention the people in the Dominican Republic & Haiti this creep is pushing this stuff on. He’s selling it as a cure for everything from AIDS to athletes foot.

        1.  So are you promoting homeopathy?  Super-dilution?

          OK, I’m just yanking your chain.  But seriously, I have treated many a gallon of water – actually tens of thousands of gallons of water – with bleach, and nobody’s ever complained before.  So you might want to use a different turn of phrase, that’s what I’m pointing out.

  3. We are not hurting anyone.”

    This last bit?  That’s why woo is dangerous.  Some desperate congregant will soon die prematurely or unnecessarily.  Is this variety of chicanery not illegal in the UK?

    1. Can you even absorb that much olive oil in one shot?  (It looks from the article that the general amount is about a liter of olive oil every 2 or 3 days) Or will you end up with greasy runny diarrhea? And if you could absorb that much oil, wouldn’t your cholesterol rocket up so high that you’re significantly increasing your risk for a heart attack?

      I mean, we all know that olive oil is good for you in the sense that you can substitute it on a few tablespoons basis in cooking, but nobody drinks half a bottle of it and walks away feeling refreshed and invigorated.

      1. Olive oil doesn’t contain any cholesterol, not being an animal product.

        Does consumption of any oil (with cholesterol or not) cause blood cholesterol to rise? Sincere question, as I don’t keep myself as well-informed on this health matter as I should.

    2. It has always seemed that England has had a disproportionate amount of quacks and fakers. I have always assumed that their laws on this are a bit lax. Would anyone in England comment, please?

      1. Nothing close to our perception of the quacks and fakers we see reported in US news.

        As a Mancunian, I know the part of town this Church is based in quite well. It’s a very poor area (if you’ve ever seen the UK version of “Shameless”, it was based just around the corner from this Church), with a substantial 1st-generation immigrant population mostly from Africa who might not have benefitted from the more scientific approach to medicine taught in UK schools, and in fact in many cases might be missing any formal education in their lives to date. There is ample opportunity for the foolish – or faithful – to exploit ignorance, and plenty who are grateful for the exploitation. It’s sad, but true.

        The UK law on this stuff is very firm. This guy is going to prison. Off the top of my head I can think of 2-3 laws he’s clearly broken if the story is found true in court (if nothing else, Trading Standards will want a word with him), and the argument of “religious freedom” won’t stand up to scrutiny because the original sales pitch was not “I believe this will work” but “I have evidence this has been working”, which is baseless.

  4. Times have changed somewhat.  When Simon Singh dared to criticized chiropractic treatment in writing, he was promptly sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association.  Of course, it didn’t work out for them and Singh was vindicated.   Would the pastor and his supporters have used the UK’s libel laws to protect themselves if they could?

  5. If it is a “gift” from god isn’t he damning himself by selling it instead of giving it away.  Not exactly doing gods work by selling “cures”

      1. My fellow church members who are openly gay are in for a big surprise, then!   None of us had any idea!

  6. It’s a sad state in this country and outward when someone like him isn’t arrested for objectively hurting others with greedy quackery.

  7. We should be outraged by the pain and suffering these idiots cause. They should be jailed. Same for the anti-immunization mob.

    When someone tells me they are taking homoeopathic remedies for something, it is all I can do not to laugh out loud. But I know that ultimately, it is a tragedy. Their beliefs in this nonsense are a result of complex societal influence, and not simply evidence of their stupidity.

    One of the greatest leaps forward we could make in the elimination of pain and suffering would be to eliminate “alternative” medicine in all its forms, and channel the same money into real medicine. There is no magic potion to make people rational, unfortunately.

    1.  Try to remember that these people, as dumb as they are, actually believe what the pastor is telling them, and BELIEVE that this black gunk drink will cure cancer.

      These people are voters… and they can’t discern BS with basic knowledge…

      1. Sad but true. I don’t blame the victims, but rather the profiteering perpetrators of this crap. (In the same way that I hate religions without hating the religious.)

    2.  in fact, EVERYONE who doesn’t agree with you should be jailed, amirite?  Because you can always gin up some bullshit reason to hate them, like pretending you’ve actually been harmed by anti-vaxxers, when you haven’t been.

  8. It’s simple. Dare the pastor to infect himself with cancer. Then let the world watch while he tries to stem it with his “miracle cure”.

    If it works, wonderful. If it doesn’t, no fucking loss.

  9. I’m sure that I don’t even want to know why an omnipotent deity’s healing touch only starts working after you purchase and consume the delicious quack-slurry, rather than on the basis of his omniscient grasp of the problem before it even becomes visible to the patient…

    Please, ‘Pastor Mbenga’, do tell why your vital middlemanly services actually fit into this picture…

  10. And if it just so happens that it doesn’t cure your cancer… well, I guess you didn’t pray hard enough, or weren’t faithful enough to God.  You sinner.

    1.  Yep.  The Christian Science routine.  “Sickness doesn’t exist, if you feel sick, it’s ONLY because you THINK you feel sick and there’s simply no other reason.  All you need to do is CONVINCE yourself that you’re well, and then you will BE WELL….because you were never sick”

  11. It’s illegal in the UK for anyone other than a registered medical professional or pharmacist to advertise, publish (including on a label) or announce an offer to treat cancer.

  12. Sounds like he should be on the Congressional Science Committee (or whatever it’s called), preventing pregnancy by rape.

    1. duuuhhhh everyone knows you can’t get pregnant if you are “legitimately raped”. (do I have to add ?)

  13. No.  Just no.  When you’ve been brought up all your life to believe that the men in the funny collars hold essential truths about life and to trust in them completely, and then when one of them peddles horseshit like this and tells you to throw away your actual medicine in favor of some fucking Ribena, you’re not operating on the full set of information you should be operating on.  In other words, you’re vulnerable, and scam artists like the “pastor” are taking advantage of you.  “Personal responsibility” only works if you’re actually informed.

    As for Bob Marley, he was under the impression that if they lopped off his big toe, they would be taking a part of his soul.  He wasn’t operating under the full set of information either.  This resulted in a minor melanoma spreading from his big toe to his brain the long way.

    1. Doesn’t “Personal Responsibility” somehow equate with “Critical Thought”? 

      Honest question.

      1. Why would a person suddenly grow the critical thought faculty just because they get cancer? Stupid, ill-informed people with provably incorrect worldviews are going to make stupid, ill-informed, provably-incorrect decisions. 

        That’s why we have doctors! You go to them and say “I am sick” and lo, treatment.  But some people are bound to be so dim as to confuse one expert with another, especially if they start out frightened, because frightened people gravitate towards vendors of comfort, which is exactly where religion is at.

        Which is why there are laws against this sort of thing, and ample free healthcare to stop the seething biomass getting all dead ‘n’ stuff.

  14. Wait, it doesn’t cure witchcraft or homosexuality?  Weak medicine!  Try new Mordicai Water; for $500 I will give you a bottle full of it; even a drop will turn another bottle into a full bottle of Mordicai Water!  Like Caesar’s Last Breath, but of snake oil!

  15. Yeah, yeah – I’ve got a pulled back muscle and I’m half-loaded on muscle relaxers. Gimme a break, alright ?

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